Sunday, December 14, 2008

2008-09 MLB's Non-Tendered Free Agents

posted by Jon Williams
There are a lot of interesting names among the non-tendered free agents this year. On the surface it may seem that this list of names is irrelevant to fantasy league owners but that assumption would be very wrong. This is about the all important context. If a team essentially cuts players from their starting lineup than other players will be replacing them. The owner that identifies that replacement soonest gains an advantage over his leaguemates. In the article below I've listed all of the non-tendered free agents and commented where I think the possibilities are interesting.

Astros - Ty Wigginton, 3B; Reggie Abercrombie OF
Ty Wigginton would be a solid addition to most lineups. He can play first base or third base and even second base or a corner outfield position in a pinch. He has a few on-base skills and hits for power. Wigginton was let go because the Astros felt they could not afford to keep him. The 2008 season was the best of Wigginton's career despite only 386 at-bats. The Astros do not appear to have a ready replacement for Wigginton. One possibility would be thuggles e early promotion of third-base prospect Chris Johnson. Johnson is smooth defensively but still has some developing to do at the plate. He makes very good contact and has 25-homer power but tends to wait for the fastball and struggles when pitchers don't oblige him.

Reggie Abercrombie is expected to a sign a minor league deal with the Astros and return for the 2009 season.

Braves - Chuck James, LHP
Chuck James was once very highly rated as a Braves pitching prospect but upon his graduation to the majors his K/9 took a significant dip even as his BB/9 rose. James suffered an elbow injury that will almost certainly cause him to miss the 2009 season. The Braves will attempt to sign him to a minor league contract.

The Braves have been determined to add frontline pitching talent to their 2009 rotation. They have already traded for veteran innings eater Javier Vazquez. They made a strong attempt to trade for Jake Peavy but understandably the Padres expectations were extremely high. The Braves also made a very serious bid to acquire pitcher A.J. Burnett who signed with the New York Yankees instead.

It is obvious the Braves intend to add another veteran pitcher to their rotation. If the remaining free agent options do not appeal to them they could return to trade possibilities. Jake Peavy is still an option and the price will come down as the Padres get more desperate to complete a deal.

Brewers - Chris Capuano, LHP
Chris Capuano
missed the entire 2008 season after suffering an elbow injury. He eventually had to endure his second Tommy John Elbow Surgery. The Brewers have been involved in his rehab and are hoping to re-sign Capuano to a minor league deal.

Cardinals
- Randy Flores, LHP; Tyler Johnson, LHP; Aaron Miles, 2B
The St. Louis Cardinals should be able to find better players than this group in theor sleep. Tony LaRussa has stated a few times this off season that he believes there is a valuable intimidation factor to having big name players in the lineup and on the pitching staff.

Diamondbacks - Chris Burke, INF; Robby Hammock, C; Wil Ledezma, LHP; Jeff Salazar, OF
The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed Felipe Lopez to replace departing second baseman Orlando Hudson. Chris Burke was once thought to be Hudson's potential replacement but he has been just barely above useless as a Diamondback.

Dodgers
- Mario Alvarez, RHP; Angel Berroa, SS; Yhency Brazoban, RHP; Scott Proctor, RHP; Takashi Saito, RHP
With Jonathan Broxton established in the closer role the Dodgers saw little need to bring back Takashi Saito. Saito missed a large portion of the season with an elbow injury and was due to gain a significant raise in salary. Saito has been an effective closer in his short major league career. He has the high strikeout rate (11.63), the low walk rate (2.47). He doesn't allow many homeruns (0.43 HR/9) thanks in part to his good groundball rate (42 percent). Saito, if healthy, should be a bargain closer option for some team in 2009.

Mariners - Jamie Burke, C

Marlins
- Joe Nelson, RHP

Nationals - Tim Redding, RHP
The Nationals tried very hard to trade Tim Redding but they either set the price too high or it was obvious to other teams that he would eventually be non-tendered. Redding is a very replaceable pitcher and the Nationals just did not want to guve him a raise. The Nationals still need every capable arm they can find so it would not be shocking to see them try to bring Redding back at a discount.

Orioles - Daniel Cabrera, RHP; Lance Cormier RHP
Daniel Cabrera has great stuff. Despite terrible control he tends to induce groundballs. prior to the 2008 season he was a good strikeout pitcher as well. His walk rate (although still extremely high) has gone down three years in a row. It is very easy to speculate that Cabrera's attempts to bring the walks under control cost him in strikeouts. The Orioles were not willing to give him a raise while still unsatisfied with the now 27-year old starter. I think he would make a dynamic relief pitcher. Some team will give him a job in the bullpen this season and a sleeper will be born.

Padres - Clay Hensley, RHP; Charlie Haeger, RHP

Phillies - Scott Mathieson, RHP

Pirates
- Denny Bautista, RHP

Rangers
- Doug Mathis, RHP

Rays
- Jonny Gomes, OF
If if there is a non-tendered free agent with the ability to turn into the next David Ortiz, it is Jonny Gomes. He has extremely good power. He strikes out a lot but he also draws a good number of walks. He hits flyballs and linedrives like crazy. He was also unlucky last season with just a .200 BABIP in 2008 compared to a career average of .294. If Gomes lands on the right team in the right role he will explode in production. The Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, and Seattle Mariners would all be great places for him to land.

Red Sox
- Kevin Cash, C

Rockies
- Jonathan Herrera, IF; Willy Taveras, OF
Willy Taveras is not an amazing player but he has a few very useful skills. He plays a solid center field (he makes a lot of mistakes but his speed makes up for many of them). He hits the ball on the ground which gives him the best chance to utilize his speed to get on base. He also is a very good base stealer (he is successful in about 80 percent of his attempts). These are skills that many teams could use.

The Rockies tried to trade Taveras but too many teams were correctly convinced that the Rockies would eventually non-tender him. The Rockies will turn to the newly acquired Carlos Gonzalez in center field and hope that he develops faster for them than he did with the Oakland athletics. The Rockies have a deep collection of outfielders coming through the system and infielders that will probably need to be moved. Dexter Fowler and Eric Young are two that should excel and take two spots in the outfield before the end of the 2009 season.

Royals
- John Bale, LHP; Jairo Cuevas, RHP; Joey Gathright, OF; Jason Smith, IF

Yankees
- Chris Britton, RHP; Justin Christian, OF

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2 Comments:

Blogger Schruender said...

I love Willy Taveras. I hate Willy Taveras. I hope that the hate part doesn't lead me to putting him on my team as a free agent. I know better than to draft him, but things happen in a season and I might have a one week stand with someone I'm not proud of.

Love Wigginton. So many positions. So many home runs:at bat.

Monday, December 15, 2008 at 10:13:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jon Williams said...

I love Wigginton too. He's exactly the type of guy I wish the Yankees would sign but that they'd have zero interest in playing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 1:48:00 AM EST  

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